Restaurant Reviews --> A Visit To St. Joseph
Brewery & Public House
A Visit To St. Joseph
Brewery & Public House
Sorry, but Linda and I aren't much on breweries since neither of us have ever enjoyed beer...heck, we never even drank beer in college (obviously at different times, but in each of our own experiences). So, when former wine distributor wine representative, Karl Mann, told me last winter that he was giving up wine sales to be the managing partner in a new brewery, I was a little surprised since Karl seemed so passionate about wine....I suppose I forgot that his roots are German! However, he seems to have combined his two passions well, since St. Joseph has an amazingly good wine list for a brewery that, according to our Beer Guy Mark Finch, also produces pretty impressive craft beer.
Karl has compiled what must be the best brewery wine list in the city, cleverly listing 30 selections for $30 a bottle, or eight wines by the glass for $8. All well-chosen, and very fairly priced, since many of his $30 selections sell for $18 to $20 in our store. We chose one of my favorite Syrahs, the Romaine Duvernay Crozes Hermitage, that made a great pairing for all of our dishes.
We visited for lunch on a Saturday afternoon after a fun visit to the Indianapolis Zoo with our nephew, Zach. We were disappointed that the orangutans were sleeping and the lemurs hiding, but it was still a great experience...we have a first-class zoo worth visiting. Although we still think a "no kids or strollers" day would be very popular! So we were ready for an adult lunch, and St. Joseph filled the bill. Located just off Mass Ave on College, this new brewery is located in a former Catholic church built in 1879, and designed by a German architect in a very Gothic style. And, on a personal note, it was dedicated by Bishop Silas Chatard, for whom my high school alma mater was named. Think of a towering ceiling and large, ornate open spaces. We can only imagine how expensive this conversion was to make it a brewery, but it looks great, if not a little echoey.
The brewery occupies the elevated space that used to house the sacristy with a long bar area stretching from the front on one side and a dining area occupying the other side of the "aisle" where pews were once a fixture. Our experience with breweries is not extensive, but nephew Zach, the general manager at the Elbow Room, confirmed that the menu was definitely out of the ordinary by brew house standards since they usually don't contain items like PEI mussels, shrimp rolls or sweet potato Chipotle soup.
There is an eight item entree menu served after 5:00 pm, but the afternoon menu has plenty to choose from, with an extensive selection of appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches. We began by sharing an appetizer of crispy, beef short ribs, that had been braised to fork-tender, flash fried and served with an orange, ginger, sesame glaze and crispy spring onions. Admittedly, a somewhat pricey appetizer for $12, but we all decided that just eating two orders of this could have been a great lunch. Like most of the new wave of restaurants, their menu was filled with locally sourced ingredients like the Viking Farm lamb burger that I could not resist. Topped with feta cheese, arugula, sauteed red onions and harissa aioli and served on a brioche bun with some very good fries, it was delicious, and again, not exactly brewery fare.
Linda chose the prosciutto sandwich on a toasted Amelia's Bakery baguette that was topped with roasted tomato, Asiago cheese, arugula and balsamic fig aioli. Very good, but a little difficult to eat since Amelia's baguettes lean toward a rustic chewiness, and multiple layers of prosciutto are a little difficult to bite through. In retrospect, it was kind of knife and fork sandwich, but very tasty. Zach chose what Karl says is their number one sandwich, the open-face bison meatloaf. Served over a bed of Texas toast and Yukon mashed potatoes, it is topped with black pepper porter gravy and a fried egg...serious, modern comfort food that Zach pronounced excellent. Our selections ranged from $11.00 to $13.50, pretty average pricing for fare of this quality.
All in all, a great food destination in an unique environment, where you can go with your beer-loving friends and still have a good wine selection.
540 N College Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
September 23, 2015